Four Successful Mamas on How Motherhood Transformed Them
Far from slowing them down, having kids inspired these mothers we love to think bigger, travel farther, and build in small pleasures for themselves.
Taryn Toomey, Wellness Trailblazer
Founder of the cultishly popular, music-propelled fitness practice called The Class, Toomey’s movement includes studios in New York, LA, and now Bridgehampton (with pop-ups in other cities), a detox program, wellness retreats, and a fine jewelry line. Taryn lives in New York with her two daughters, Lettie, 9, and Finley, 7.
What does being a mom mean to you?
It’s a privilege. It’s taught me what unconditional love truly feels like and it's given me an opportunity to be aware of the conditioning that happened during my upbringing and reprogram some of it to provide a better upbringing for my children. Like I said, it’s a privilege.
How has motherhood changed or shaped your approach to your work?
Raising children and growing a business are similar in many ways. In some ways I feel like I’m raising a third child with my work. What's key is being aware of your own “stuff” and noticing if you're bringing that into your work or family life—if you're projecting or over-identifying. Sometimes I'll say at work, "I know this is my own stuff, so I'm bringing this here and am open for feedback." I think it’s bit of the same thing with children. Noticing if it's a conditioned behavior—things you've learned from your mother or father—and asking yourself which of those you'd like to carry forward in your teachings and which of those you'd like to leave behind.
What have your girls taught you?
How to find joy in the little things. The healing power of presence. And the felt sense of unconditional love.
The journey of the physical and spiritual self is such a big focus of yours. How do you talk about these issues with your daughters?
When appropriate. When they come to me with things they're dealing with, whether it be people or other situations in the world, I use it as an opportunity to teach them about the brain, body and spirit—and which one is being affected. I teach them about the brain and how you can give it a job and ask it to create a different thought or feeling by directing it there. I teach them about the power of their breath and noticing the times they feel at ease and safe in the spirit.
Do they ever exercise with you?
Yes. My youngest one frequently comes to the gym with me. I bring them on some retreats with me as well. They're always welcome in the space as long as they don't distract or speak, understanding the power of being in a sacred space where people are practicing and honoring that. I think it's a really good lesson to teach them at a young age.
How do you balance work and family, while finding time for you?
It's not easy and I don't necessarily think I've found the formula. I try to catch myself before I feel like I'm about to hit the floor. It's really about reflecting and then applying. Balance is a moving target these days!
What are your never-leave-the-house-without beauty steps?
Sunblock, an eyelash curler, and a hat.
Any favorite Chantecaille products?
The Liquid Lumière Anti-Aging Illuminator
What’s your plan for Mother’s Day?
That's actually a great question! When is Mother's Day? See question #7…. There's usually some sort of massage, food and relaxation involved. Simplicity feels like luxury to me these days.
TyLynn Nguyen, Lingerie Designer
When she’s not juggling one of her three young kiddos, designer Nguyen can be found at a sewing machine or mapping out samples for her eponymous line of wearable, minimal lingerie. Based in L.A., Nguyen is mama to Lotus, 6; Czar, 3; and Hunter, 1.
With three kids, you and your husband are officially outnumbered! How do you try to keep your home life together?
We set boundaries! I have a toy closet and their rooms are “be messy” free zones. They also have designated play areas and always eat at a certain table unless it’s a holiday.
How would you describe your parenting style? Has it evolved with your second and third children?
I would say my husband and I are “go with the flow” kind of parents. I think we’ve landed here because with so many children, each with their different needs, to try and squeeze them into our ways would be frustrating for everyone.
What have your children taught you about yourself?
That I am a beast at all the things: mom and work life included, ha!
What inspired you to become a lingerie designer?
I studied lingerie design in college. It was fascinating to me how lingerie has predominantly been aimed at attracting a man. I wanted to live in pieces that were sexy to me first— then, if I chose to share them with my partner, lucky him.
Who is your go-to for parenting advice?
When you get “me” time, how do you spend it?
In a bath giving myself a facial. I love the Rose de Mai collection and use the face and body oils after a bath.
How will you spend Mother's Day?
I’ll have brunch at Malibu Soho and then I’ll hit the beach with my family.
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Clémence von Mueffling, Beauty Journalist and Author
A veteran of the French beauty industry (she held positions at Clarins and Dior Skincare), von Mueffling married a New Yorker and they now live in the city with her 8-year-old twin children, Lucas and Anaïs. She’s the founder of the online magazine Beauty and Well-Being, and last year authored the book, Ageless Beauty the French Way: Secrets of Three Generations of Beauty Editors, drawing on her considerable family know-how.
As a beauty expert, you must have a well-honed morning routine.
It’s short and efficient. I love to dry brush before I jump in the shower, which activates my circulation, then I apply a bit of body lotion afterwards. On my face I just use a toner and then I dab on thermal water, which really hydrates, before a daily moisturizer. In terms of makeup, I’ll mix two different shades of foundation to get the perfect shade. I actually use a lot of Chantecaille products—the Faux Cils mascara, which gives a very long and full look, and I’m really in love these days with the Coral Cheek Shade, the one with the coral imprint in it. And I always finish with a perfume!
Your kids are pretty young. Are you imparting any French beauty or style wisdom to them yet?
At their age, we talk about how important it is to protect themselves from the sun. I love buying rash guards—there are so many nice designs now—and I try to teach them how to use SPF by themselves, like transparent sprays and sticks for the face.
My daughter is more into clothes; she likes to try fun looks, and to sew—she even does some of her own clothing. I like to see them experiment and find out what they like, but as a French mother, there are some occasions, like family reunions, when I will choose for them, so I can make sure everyone is looking nicely dressed, comme il faut. Because that’s important as well. I want my son to learn that for a nice dinner, you wear a shirt with a collar. I teach my daughter that you have to brush your hair and wear it a certain way to look a bit sophisticated; it only takes three minutes. It’s at this age that you start to transmit those values. I’m kind of a little traditional sometimes, but for me it’s important, a passport for your whole life.
How do you balance family time with work?
I really love what I do. I think that helps a lot. And in New York, everything is designed to make your life easier, like ordering dinner delivery. Plus my husband is very involved; we share school drop-offs and homework duty. I plan all of my meetings during the day, so evenings are just for the family. I love to cook, and we have a very French ritual enjoying a meal not just for 7 minutes, but really sitting at the table and talking. It’s very important to me—it’s the way I grew up and my parents grew up.
When do you make time for yourself?
In the mornings, I like to sit in a café with a coffee and a pain au chocolat. If the weather’s good, I love being outdoors. I might read—I still love to read the French news, though I’ve lived here for 12 years—or plan my day or think of new stories for the magazine.
Your mother and your grandmother also worked in beauty. What did you learn from them?
They were both editors at French Vogue, and were such inspirations to me. They taught me a lot about beauty that I will pass onto my daughter. In my book, my mother said, “Self-care is not about vanity, it’s about self-confidence in your everyday life.” And as you get older, it’s also about giving a positive image of the passage of time to younger generations. I think that’s a beautiful way to live.
Jeralyn Gerba, Travel Writer and Entrepreneur
An insatiable wanderlust inspired the New York-based Gerba to launch Fathom, an insider’s guide to traveling like a local. She is the co-author of Travel Anywhere (and Avoid Being a Tourist) and mom to Gemma, 3, and Roman, 2 months.
Do you travel differently now, post-kiddos?
Of course I do! The spirit remains the same, but the agenda changes a bit with a toddler and an infant—less emphasis on nightlife and Michelin restaurants; more focus on being in the great outdoors and taking plenty of snack breaks. I like the challenge of packing and itinerary planning with a toddler and infant in tow. And then I like throwing all that planning out the window so that we can be spontaneous and have an adventure.
What is the most ambitious trip you've ever taken with your kid(s)?
Okay, so maybe joining my husband (Mister Saturday Night DJ Justin Carter) on tour for a road trip down the Croatian coast and into Montenegro with a two-year-old was a bit ambitious. She was down with the beaches and the partying, but couldn’t stand all that time in the car. The upside: We made more random pit-stops than usual to jump into the sea.
What is the most magical place you've taken Gemma to?
A few particular moments stick out from the last three years with my babe: swimming in the ocean pools in North Bondi, Australia; hiking in the Grand Canyon and Sedona; and visiting Japan—where she slurped her first ramen, made friends with a Sumo champion, and befriended the fancy ladies shopping at department store depachikas.
When you get some kid-free time, how do you spend it?
I pretty much do the same things whether I have the kids or not. I just do more of it and stay up later.
You're boarding a plane with two small children: What's in your bag?
There are all sorts of magic and tricks in my carpet bag—a mixture of familiar toys and crafts and new items they’ve never seen before. Could be tiny colored pencils, dominoes, water pens, books. It’s all about the slow reveal, Mary Poppins-style. You’ve got to keep them guessing.
What's your plan for Mother's Day?
I’m lucky. My husband throws an all-ages, outdoor daytime dance party at Nowadays, his bar/hangout space in Brooklyn, and the season starts on Mother’s Day. So my plan is to be under the disco ball. With the kids, of course.